Garfield County commissioners may vote today on changing comp plan |

Garfield County commissioners may vote today on changing comp plan

John ColsonPost Independent staffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Fulfilling a pledge they made to themselves in January, the Garfield County commissioners today will consider changing the Unified Land Use Review Code to make the county’s Comprehensive Plan 2030 “advisory” instead of “mandatory.”The applicants for the proposed changes are the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), and the board’s chairman, John Martin.If adopted, the change would reverse the recommendation of the county’s planning and zoning commission, the body that adopted the comprehensive plan.On May 18, the planning commission voted unanimously to retain the current code language requiring land use reviews to “be in accordance with and serve to implement the goals and policies of the Garfield County Comprehensive Plan.”The changes also are opposed by the Carbondale Board of Trustees and the New Castle Town Council.Officials from both towns have formally written to the BOCC asking that the county’s codes not be changed to make the comp plan less than mandatory.In the eyes of the New Castle council members, the issue is not just the language of the comp plan, but its effect on growth in general.The comp plan, according to New Castle’s May 17 letter, “recommends development be centralized in already established communities,” a concept endorsed by the town.”We don’t believe that filling up the areas between towns is in the best interest of the future of Garfield County,” the New Castle letter states.The Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors, on the other hand, sent a letter to the BOCC on July 21 “to reiterate our support for making sure the 2030 Comprehensive Plan is an advisory document. A binding document will only further suppress development in Garfield County.”The proposed changes to the comprehensive plan first came up informally during a BOCC retreat in January held in Gateway, in far western Mesa County.Historically, the comp plan, as it is known, has been essentially an advisory document, other than a provision asking any development application to “demonstrate a level of compliance with the adopted Comprehensive Plan,” as described by long range planner Tamra Allen in a memo.Allen’s memo explained that the plan has contained that provision, or something similar, for the past 41 years, and the plan never has contained language making it “mandatory.”State law requires the county to adopt a comp plan as an “advisory document,” but the relevant statute leaves it to individual counties to decide how the plan relates to the county’s land use codes themselves and to the land use review process.In 2010, the county government adopted the updated comprehensive plan as an advisory document, following roughly a year of revisions and citizen input.Allen’s memo notes that every town within Garfield County has adopted land use codes with provisions similar to the county’s, in that applications must “comply with” or have a “compatibility with” their own comp plans, at least.In addition, Allen’s memo states, neighboring counties have codes that require development applications to be in keeping with their own comp plans, to varying degrees.The idea of modifying the comp plan to clearly make it advisory was a central tenet of Commissioner Tom Jankovsky’s 2010 election campaign, in which he defeated two-term incumbent Trsi Houpt.Since being elected, Jankovsky has been the leading voice on the BOCC in calling for a more “business friendly” review process. His fellow commissioners, John Martin and Mike Samson, have also supported the approach.The proposed changes are to be discussed, and either adopted or continued, at a public hearing at 1 p.m. today in the BOCC meeting room at the county administration building, 108 Eighth St. in Glenwood

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